Maersk Line is rolling out a new system designed to speed up and simplify containerized food product shipments.
The carrier already has tested its patented “Container Lamination” system in Australia, a major containerized exporter of agricultural products, and eventually could be launched for customers in the U.S. and Europe.
Maersk, the world’s largest container carrier, believes container lamination will offer shippers a major advantage over other systems, increase availability of “food grade” 20-foot containers and reduce its box-repair costs.
“Australia has been the pilot location for Container Lamination as we found that the need to improve reliability of food-quality containers was most pressing in this location,” said Andrew Cumming, Maersk’s operations manager in Australia. “Our colleagues in the USA have taken delivery of application tools and materials in order to conduct their own cargo trials.”
Maersk hasn’t decided on a U.S. launch date or how the product will be deployed. “For EU countries, it is much the same story,” Cumming said. “A number of my colleagues have now expressed interest and will be evaluating the business case in their respective markets.”
Most lining systems use bag or cardboard mechanisms, but Maersk says lamination is more cost-effective because it’s quick to fit and can be used for more than one shipment. The laminate lining can be applied to boxes in 20 minutes using specially designed dispensing apparatus that press the film against the interior walls of the container.
The film is transparent, allowing Australian quarantine officials to provide special consideration with inspection, Cumming said. “The inspection process can function exactly as it does today in Australia with a ‘normal’ container. The packer/exporter does not need to do anything different,” he said. “This is not the case for other types of liners. The quarantine inspection must be done prior to installation, which creates all kinds of problems.”
As part of the package, Maersk accepts full liability for removing and recycling the film. “If the customer wishes to remove the film, then they can choose to do so,” Cumming said. “In fact, the consignee after removing their product can return the container without further special cleaning as Maersk will take care of the removal of the product. This effectively makes the unpacking process easier for consignees.
“We fit it, we remove it,” he said. “Shippers and consignees just do what they normally do.”